of the photographer's comment (it appears that Denton's original is
gone, but that another commenter reposted it within his own comment;
scroll down to "Andy Levin Fri Aug 11 09:54:08")
i have been working in lebanon since all this started,
and seeing the behavior of many of the lebanese wire service
photographers has been a bit unsettling. while hajj has garnered a lot
of attention for his doctoring of images digitally, whether guilty or
not, i have been witness to the daily practice of directed shots, one
case where a group of wire photogs were coreographing the unearthing of
bodies, directing emergency workers here and there, asking them to
position bodies just so, even remove bodies that have already been put
in graves so that they can photograph them in peoples arms. these
photographers have come away with powerful shots, that required no
manipulation digitally, but instead, manipulation on a human level, and
this itself is a bigger ethical problem.
In an article on Fidel Castro, his health, and his visit from Venezuelan Fidel fan Hugo Chavez, the Associated Press noted that "birthday articles in state-run newspapers extolled his virtues." The implication is that state-controlled papers aren't apt to be truthful, much less objective.
So what's the AP's excuse? In the very same article, AP reporter Anita Snow informs us that:
"News of Castro's illness made Cubans uneasy about the future, but a series of upbeat statements from government officials have helped calm a public facing up to the mortality of the island's longtime leader. 'What happiness I received!' exclaimed resident Margot Gomez after seeing Sunday's newspaper during a morning walk in Havana. 'Long live Fidel and long live the revolution! He knows what to do to convert setbacks into victories!'
Were New York Times columnists Paul Krugman and Bob Herbert hangin' in the Hamptons this weekend? Exchanging ideas at a chic cocktail party with ocean views? You might think so, judging by their columns this morning in which they sound such similar themes.
Compare Krugman: "The Bush administration and its allies in Congress saw the terrorist threat not as a problem to be solved, but as a political opportunity to be exploited."
With Herbert: "Will [Americans] continue to fall for the political exploitation of their fears of terrorism?"
Other annotated excerpts, first from Herbert's column, Aiding Our Enemies [subscription required. Note to readers: despite my reluctance to patronize the NY Times, I broke down and subscribed over the weekends. I subscribe, read and report back, so you don't have to!]
"The catastrophic war in Iraq, which has caused the deaths of tens of thousands, was a strategic mistake of the highest magnitude. It diverted our focus, energy and resources from the real enemy, Al Qaeda and its offshoots."
Last week, in this NewsBusters post, we took issue with the anti-Catholicism in an August 5, 2006, column from Los Angeles Times media critic Tim Rutten. In an especially ugly and vitriolic piece, Rutten capitalized on the arrest of Mel Gibson to imply that orthodox Christians and supporters of Gibson's The Passion of the Christ film were anti-Semitic. Rutten's column builds the case that anti-Christian and anti-Catholic prejudice is alive and well at the Los Angeles Times.
It is hard to overstate the importance of what Little Green Footballs' site operator Charles Johnson learned from a clearly knowledgeable person in the news business, and revealed in a post yesterday morning. Anyone who attempts to understand events in the Middle East but is unaware of what Johnson has exposed is being shortchanged, and very likely misled.
Now Johnson has expanded what began as a "narrow" photojournalism controversy into an expose of how, for decades, the news we receive from the most volatile region in the world has, in exchange for what looks an awful lot like bribery, been twisted and controlled to meet a pro-Arab, pro-terorist, anti-Israel agenda.
If Davie Rossie's ramblings were simply those of one more angry liberal pundit, they'd hardly merit comment. What makes his utterances noteworthy is that when Rossie isn't churning out his once-a-week column, he is editing the news for the Gannett chain. Rossie is Associate Editor of Gannett's Binghamton paper, the Press & Sun Bulletin.
In today's column, 'Once There Were Giants in Television News', Rossie laments that they aren't making TV newsmen like Edward R. Murrow any more. With what might be condemned as sexism, nay, misogyny, had it been suggested by a conservative critic, Rossie grumps that "it's mostly ex-fashion models and Playboy Playmates pretending to understand the news they read to us on cable TV."
With the fauxtography/Reutersgate scandal widening, accounts of Israeli atrocities by wire service employees who are also local residents directly affected by the fighting need to be examined carefully. Especially when coincidences begin to stack up.
Two wire service employees, one an Associated Press photographer and the other a Reuters reporter, were in the same convoy fleeing Israeli-occupied Marjayoun when the convoy was attacked, killing several people.
At least one of them is a Marjayoun resident, as is Salam Daher, better known as Green Helmet. Green Helmet has been accused of stagingmedia events at Qana.
It is interesting how the MSM covered the primaries this year.
Especially the Lieberman/Lamont fight in Connecticut, naturally. But,
looking over the coverage I saw a strange difference in how the MSM
treated the Connecticut race and one not so nationally known in
Michigan. Apparently, according to the media, a victory by a liberal counts for more than a victory by a conservative.
To illustrate my point, I will use two Associated Press reports made on the very same night, Primary night, August 9th.
We all know what happened with the Lieberman/Lamont contest, of
course. Lamont eeked by Lieberman with a spread of only 10,119 more
votes (of 283,055 cast) than the 3 term Democratic Senator giving
Lamont 52% to Lieberman's 48%. This is hardly a landslide by any honest
reckoning. Yet, the MSM played this like a groundswell for Lamont. Here
is how the AP reported it on election night...
I've been meaning to write something about the latest blog-bashing
from the keyboard of Columbia J-school dean Nicholas Lemann but haven't
had the time. Thankfully, New York Press's Russ Smith and my friend Bob
Cox have taken care of the task for me. Before quoting from them,
here's a taste of Lemann's sour grapes, actually saying that the legacy media never have been elitist and, in fact, are reflective of the average American:
American journalism began, roughly speaking, on the
Britain model; during Colonial times it was dominated by fiery
political speechmakers, like Thomas Paine. All those uplifting
statements by the Founders about freedom of the press were almost
certainly produced with pamphleteers in mind. When, in the early
nineteenth century, political parties and fast cylinder printing
presses developed, American journalism became mainly a branch of the
party system, with very little pretense to neutral authority or
ownership of the facts.
A related development was the
sensational penny press, which served the big cities, whose populations
were swollen with immigrants from rural America and abroad. It produced
powerful local newspapers, but it’s hard to think of them as
the priesthood model. William Randolph Hearst’s New York
leading examples, were flamboyant, populist, opinionated, and
thoroughly disreputable. They influenced politics, but that is
different from saying, as Glenn Reynolds says of the Hearst papers,
that they “set the agenda for public discussion.”
Most of the formal
means of generating information that are familiar in America
today—objective journalism is only one; others are modern
research, professional licensing, and think tanks—were
created, in the
late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, explicitly to counter
the populist inclinations of various institutions, one of which was the
In fact, what the prophets of Internet
journalism believe themselves to be fighting
against—journalism in the
hands of an enthroned few, who speak in a voice of phony, unearned
authority to the passive masses—is, as a historical
a straw man.
Putting aside more conspiratorially-minded critics of the mainstream
media, genuine practical concerns and mounting evidence suggest
Western media has been co-opted by Hezbollah in Lebanon to a
significant agree. So much so, in fact, that it may be unable to paint
an accurate picture of the current conflict.
The two year old image at right is from a Reuters video of
Palestinian terrorists escaping from an action in Israel with the aid
of a UN van. Video here.
The decision by America's MSM not to publish it at the time may
represent press bias, or that its concern for American's right to know
is somewhat selective. However, it also serves to make another
Service organizations like the UN and the Red Cross often rely on
local individuals to flesh out their staffs. Obviously, there are areas
of the world where it's difficult to tell the good guys from the bad
and sometimes the bad guys may represent the majority of the local
population. Such may be the case in Southern Lebanon and it invites the
kind of co-optation witnessed above.
With the MSM having decided to rely heavily on local stringers in
covering the Israeli Hezbollah conflict in Southern Lebanon, their
coverage appears to have fallen prey to manipulation by a terrorist
group, or at least its propaganda machine.
The fauxtography scandal is blowing out of control as proof after proof rolls in how much of the self-described photojournalism coming out of Lebanon is illegitimate. If you're a blogger (or are reading some) covering the story, drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll include a link in this roundup. And of course, you can link in the comments as well. Comments are now open to unregistered users.
UPDATE 6:25. After an overnight hardware failure, NB is back up and running. The links will begin momentarily.
UPDATE 6:38. Snapped Shot is another blog worth checking out. Keep those links coming, folks!
UPDATE 7:05. Via NB reader Geepers comes this link to a German TV news show proving that the infamous Salam Daher, aka "greenhelmetguy," is a stage manager for Hezbollah. The video shows him rehearsing the removal of a body from an ambulance and giving directions to the camera operator.
Bloggers—and to a much lesser extent some media outlets—have paid
considerable attention to specific examples of media manipulation in
the war being fought between Hezbollah and the IDF in Lebanon and
Israel, but we seem be under-covering the overall framing of the
media's coverage, particularly when it comes to the subject matter
chosen for coverage.
This comes into sharp relief when contrasted against the coverage
we've become used to from the war in Iraq, particularly as it relates
to the media coverage allowed and provided by two different
insurgencies in Lebanon's Hezbollah and Iraq's predominately Sunni
In Iraq, we’ve become somewhat used to embedded reporters reporting
from both sides of the conflict with a fairly wide latitude to operate.
Stringers, both print media and photographers, have occasionally
embedded within the insurgency, providing coverage from ambushes and
sniper's nests alike. The insurgents themselves often seem to be media
hungry, filming operations themselves and often releasing the tapes to
the media or producing them on DVDs for public consumption in Iraq and
throughout the Middle East.
By and large, the vast majority of video reporting allowed and
encouraged by the Iraqi insurgency is combat-related. IED ambushes are
particularly popular, often released as montages set to Islamist music
as propaganda videos. The Iraqi insurgents have often seemed intent on
portraying themselves as rebel forces actively waging a war for the
people, whether or not the people would always agree.
Hezbollah, however, seems to be fighting a different kind of media war.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a prominent organization that has been combatting anti-Semitism and bigotry for 90 years, has issued a letter to MSNBC Countdown host Keith Olbermann. The letter, dated July 28, 2006, takes serious issue with Olbermann's repeated use of the Nazi salute while badgering Bill O'Reilly. The body of ADL's letter begins as follows:
We are deeply dismayed by your ongoing use of the Nazi "Sieg Heil" salute, both on your program and in public appearances -- including the recent Television Critics Association press tour -- while holding up a mask of Fox News commentator Bill O'Reilly.
Today's Los Angeles Times includes an extended obituary on Dorothy Healey, described as "a onetime labor organizer, civil rights activist and Marxist radio commentator." The newspaper found nothing but praise for the old comrade. According to an acquaintance: "She was always so fiercely partisan for working people. Yes, of course, she cared about war and peace and women's issues, but she was always concerned about working people."
A college historian credits her union activism with leading "her to become an advocate of black and Chicano rights at a time when few other people were speaking out on such issues."
A Pew Research Center for the People and the Press survey released today discovered, by “by a margin of 50 percent to 34 percent, Americans think that news organizations have hurt rather than helped the interests of the American people” with “news reports that the government has been secretly examining the bank records of American citizens who may have ties to terrorist groups.” However, “an even larger 65 percent to 28 percent majority believes that these news accounts told citizens something that they should know about.”
Republicans are much more upset with the media than Democrats, the poll, conducted July 6-19, found: “While nearly seven in ten Republicans (69 percent) believe the press reports have hurt the interests of the American people,” with a piddling 17 percent of Republicans contending it helped, “relatively few Democrats agree (38 percent). Instead, a 46 percent plurality of Democrats regards the press reporting as beneficial to the public's interest.”
It's unquestionable that something bad happened in Qana, Lebanon recently. Was it a massacre of innocent civilians, collateral damage, or a Hezbollah set-up?
It's starting to seem as though it was a combination of all three. The Washington Post's Jefferson Morley, Aziz P, and Ace are some of the bloggers beginning to raise this point. I've excerpted some of their arguments below. If you see any counter-arguments, post them as a comment or email them to me so I can include all sides.
UPDATE 14:25. Dan Riehl theorizes on how Hezbollah might have staged the casualties. Read on past the jump for an excerpt.
UPDATE 14:48. Power Line argues further that Arab stringers for MSM organizations are staging photos.
UPDATE 15:17. Ace has more possibly staged pix, including a mannequin improbably standing upright sporting a wedding dress.
On Monday, the CBS Evening News with Bob Schieffer (but anchored by Harry Smith) aired a new promo for the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric in which Couric promised a newscast that will not just explain “what happened,” but also what the news “means to you.” That sounds just like a plug for the worst of gimmicky local TV “news you can use.” Couric maintained, of providing what the news “means to you,” that “I'd like to see more of that and I think viewers would too." For Couric's portion of the 15-second promo, CBS made her image fuzzy, as well as the knick-knacks and flowers in the background. Could the Martha Stewart-like stage be the new “news” set? Beside her you can see a phone and what looks like the top of a computer screen. Maybe the blurry image is intended to convey warmth and softness.
It’s not just the doctored photos. Apart from the most recent travesty of journalistic ethics, it's worth recalling how Reuters has also tilted its words in favor of those who promote terror and misery around the world.
For example, Iraqis compelled to vote for Saddam Hussein back in 2002 were “defiant” and in a “festive mood,” while Saddam’s capture by U.S. forces a year later was marked by “resentment...of life under U.S. occupation.”
For Reuters’ editors, the first anniversary of 9/11 was a reminder that “human rights around the world” have been a “casualty” of the war on terror, while the second anniversary was a time to point out how “sympathy [for America] soured” as the U.S. actually fought back against the forces of darkness.
It appears that the leftist investigative-reporting duo of Donald Barlett and James Steele now will publish its numbingly long articles in Vanity Fair. Katharine Seelye writes in Monday's New York Times that B&S "have accepted an offer from Graydon Carter, [VF's] editor, to sign a multiyear contract, agreeing to write two articles a year. Both will have the title of contributing editor at the glossy monthly."
Barlett and Steele have been a reporting team since 1971, first at the Philadelphia Inquirer and then at Time magazine. They probably are best known for their 1992 book, America: What Went Wrong? The book, based on a series of stories the two had written for the Inquirer, sought to portray the economic boom of the 1980s as a case of the rich prospering at the expense of the middle class and the poor. (Brent Baker explores B&S's methodology here.)
Elian Gonzalez sent a note Sunday wishing a speedy recovery to "my dear grandpa Fidel," ...Gonzalez, the Cuban boy at the center of an international custody battle with family members in Miami six years ago, published a letter in the Communist Youth newspaper Juventud Rebelde signed with "little kisses" from him and his half-siblings and cousins.
"We send you this letter to let you know that we are worried about your health," Elian, now 12, wrote. "We hope for your speedy recovery and take the opportunity to wish you a happy birthday, may you have many more."
Last night's report by Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs that a "Beirut burning" photo that was clearly and clumsily doctored with Photoshop editing tools had made it way onto the wires from Reuters has morphed into what must be considered a full-blown scandal that should, by rights, shake the news service and other "Mainstream" Media outlets to their very foundations, and force them to reexamine how they conduct and control their photojournalistic efforts around the world.
Consider just some of what has happened in the 24 hours or so since my NewsBusters post very early Sunday morning:
Reuters has "dropped" the freelance Lebanese journalist after the image in question was shown to be doctored:
The wire service offered perhaps the lamest excuse ever offered in the history of photojournalism for Adnan Hajj, the photographer involved --
Neal Gabler might not look like an athlete, but don't be surprised to see him lining up for the long jump at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. For on this evening's Fox News Watch, Neal made a logical leap of Beamonesque proportions.
According to Gabler, the fact that a drunken Gibson made anti-Semitic remarks retroactively proves that his 'Passion of the Christ' was anti-Semitic too.
Here's how the liberal media critic put it:
"The interest here is 'The Passion.' It made something like $400 million. It was accused of being anti-Semitic. The mainstream press didn't really want to touch it. Because they were afraid of being clobbered from the right.
Mega-blogger Markos Moulitsas Zúniga of the Daily Kos talking down the blogs' influence on the Connecticut Dem primary? John Fund of the good old Wall Street Journal talking it up?
The odd couple, guests on this evening's Hardball, engaged in some serious media gender-bending. With Mike Barnicle sitting in for host Chris Matthews, Fund went first, and overflowed with praise for the role the blogs have played in the race.
Fund: "I think [the blogs' impact has] been very significant. I offer a tip of the hat to them. They have taken the former vice-presidential candidate and created a single issue around the war, and this is is a man who opposed George Bush on tax cuts, and many things, and they have turned him into the perception as George Bush's lackey, and they are on the verge of knocking off a senator. That's happened only twice before. It's remarkable."
If the Israeli "massacre" at Qana turns out to be yet another fraud, you can count on the media to quietly let the story slip away, a contrast from the media fireworks that were present when the story was announced. A simple "we were wrong" is is much more embarrassing than hoping everyone will forget the original hype.
Besides the disgraced ex-CBS Evening News anchor, HDNet has announced just one hire for “Dan Rather Reports,” tapping a longtime CBS veteran producer, Wayne Nelson, who will be the Executive Producer for new “investigative news” program. (Wasn’t “investigative news” what got Rather into trouble in the first place?) Nelson’s career highlights include stints at CBS’s Dallas bureau, the CBS Evening News and 60 Minutes.
Appearing on FNC's The O'Reilly Factor Wednesday, former CBS News anchor Dan Rather conceded there's a "problem" with America's media in its treatment of Hezbollah and Israel with "moral equivalence," even including himself as part of the problem. As host Bill O'Reilly brought up the topic, stating his criticism that "Some networks give moral equivalency to Hezbollah in the reporting of this war," Rather voiced agreement and went on to acknowledge the media's reluctance to label Hezbollah as a "terrorist organization." Rather: "It's a problem that those of us in journalism have been reluctant to address -- I do not exclude myself from this criticism -- reluctant to address that Hezbollah is a terrorist organization. It's committed to the destruction of Israel. It isn't committed to trying to just gain territory. It's committed to its destruction." (Transcript follows)
Right there on their web page linking us to their story it blares. "Lawmakers almost giddy over Castro's illness", the headline trumpets. Later in their story they repeat the negligently emotive rhetoric.
"Another Cuban-born U.S. politician, Sen. Mel Martinez, was almost giddy over the report of Castro's surgery.
"My hope is that there will be an opportunity for voices of freedom to be heard in Cuba, that this could begin a moment of transformation and transition to a better life and a better day," the Republican from Florida told reporters.
Martinez described his reaction to Monday's report that Castro is ill as "intensely emotional."